NBA regular season

Luka Doncic chases 10,000 mark as Mavericks face Suns on Christmas

Reuters

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Luka Doncic chases 10,000 mark as Mavericks face Suns on Christmas

APPROVE. Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) reacts during the second half against the San Antonio Spurs at American Airlines Center.

Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Luka Doncic needs just 11 points to tie for the seventh-fastest player in NBA history to reach 10,000 for his career

Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic is in position to reach an impressive milestone on Christmas.

Doncic needs just 11 points to tie for the seventh-fastest player in NBA history to reach 10,000 for his career when the Mavericks visit the Phoenix Suns on Monday, December 25 (Tuesday, December 26, Manila time).

Wilt Chamberlain holds the record of 236 games, followed by Michael Jordan (303), Elgin Baylor (315), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (319), Oscar Robertson (334), George Gervin (355), and Bob McAdoo (358). Doncic will be playing in his 358th game.

It should be a mere formality for Doncic as long as he is fit. He did sit out Friday’s 122-96 road loss to the Houston Rockets due to a left quadriceps strain.

But he bounced back Saturday when he had 39 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists during a 144-119 romp over the visiting San Antonio Spurs.

Doncic was just fine with the large margin of victory to end a three-game slide.

“Just rest in the fourth quarter, it’s always the best for me,” Doncic said. “I love it.”

Doncic has scored 30 or more points in 12 of his past 13 appearances. He had 11 straight during the stretch to set a franchise record.

Overall, Doncic is averaging 36 points, 11.3 assists, and 9.5 rebounds in December.

Doncic picked up the attack with sidekick Kyrie Irving (right heel contusion) sidelined. Irving will miss his ninth straight game on Monday, while Josh Green (right elbow strain) and Kleber (toe dislocation) also were ruled out Sunday. Dereck Lively II is questionable with a left ankle spain.

Dallas didn’t miss Irving on Saturday when it mauled San Antonio. The Mavericks led by as many as 41 points, knocked down 23 three-pointers and received 23 points from Tim Hardaway Jr. and 20 from Dante Exum.

“We shot the ball a lot better than we did (Friday) night,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said. “But a great character win, too. We could have felt sorry for ourselves about our performance (against Houston), but we turned the page. A much-needed win before we go to Phoenix for Christmas.”

Phoenix has dropped eight of its past 11 games after falling 120-105 to the host Sacramento Kings on Friday.

The Suns have been one of the more disappointing teams in the NBA, but they will have the opportunity to get things moving in the right direction with seven of their next eight games at home.

Kevin Durant scored 28 points and Devin Booker had 24 against Sacramento but Phoenix trailed by as many as 29 points.

“We have to be better and improve our offensive execution,” Suns coach Frank Vogel said. “We are not playing well enough right now.”

Offseason acquisition Bradley Beal was supposed to form a Big Three with Durant and Booker but has played in just six games due to back and ankle injuries. He was ruled out again Monday.

Meanwhile, veteran guard Eric Gordon is becoming frustrated with the lack of opportunities. Gordon took just two shots in 25 scoreless minutes against Sacramento and had 5 points on 1-of-7 shooting in a 109-104 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday.

The 16-year veteran told Bleacher Report he was going to speak to Vogel about his role.

“Everybody knows the type of player I am and what I’m about,” Gordon said. “I came here to win, but what I do is score. And I think when I score, it really opens up the door for a lot of people because I can score in big games and in big ways. That’s just what it is.”

Gordon, who turns 35 on Christmas Day, has scored 20 or more points in back-to-back games twice this season.

Gordon (hip) is dealing with soreness and is probable. Guard Josh Okogie (hip) also is probable while center Jusuf Nurkic (personal reasons) will miss his second straight game.

The Mavericks have won two of the past three regular-season meetings following a 10-game winning streak by the Suns. Dallas famously stunned Phoenix in seven games in the 2022 Western Conference semifinals, winning the last two games by 27 and 33 points. – Rappler.com

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